In the world of tech, it is a notoriously difficult for women to get ahead. It’s almost a given that they will struggle to thrive like their male counterparts, inevitably finding it difficult to advance to high-paying, managerial roles. According to the Observer, only 25% of computing roles are held by women, and as their career continues, the statistics worsen. Only 11% of executive positions in Silicon Valley are awarded to female employees, while just 5% of all tech start-ups are owned by women. Though attitudes towards women in IT are changing radically, these intimidating stats inescapably deter women from pursuing careers in the tech industry. And young womens’ reluctance to enter the field further fuels the gender gap.
Women’s struggle to advance in the IT world is often put down to deeply-ingrained expectations that women are more creative-minded, whereas men are much better suited for logical, 'techie' roles. Women instead tend to dominate more creative roles in marketing and communications, careers that are assumed to be a better fit for a ‘female skillset’. Yet there is no reason why they shouldn't succeed in IT roles. Indeed, many women holding down these roles thrive in the IT industry and are very effective managers. Here are three tech roles in which women are beginning to bridge the gender gap and thrive:
1. Chief Data Officer
A chief data officer (CDO) is a corporate officer responsible for the utilization of information as an asset and for enterprise-wide governance. Their position is performed using data mining, data processing, analysis, information trading and various other means. CDO's typically lead a team of data engineers, scientists, analysts and reporting types. According to IBM, 25% of people holding the CDO role are women, a proportionally high number given the senior level of the role, and it's a growing area where women are beginning to thrive. The average salary in 2017 for an individual in this position was $180,000 a year.
2. Digital Marketing Manager
This role is a natural progression from a career in the female-heavy marketing and communications field and in a survey run by Conversation Talent, 34% of the respondents working in this role were women. Digital marketing managers are responsible for developing and managing all aspects of an organizations' digital marketing strategy. In recent years this has come with a heavy emphasis on their social media presence. The ideal candidate has a strong understanding of the software in place for marketing in the modern era, so a digital marketing manager needs to be a master of paid search, SEO and PPC. Since almost all companies need a digital marketing manager, this role is incredibly diverse. The salary is typically between $90,000 to $150,0000, depending on responsibility and size of department/company.
3. UX/UI Designer
A UX/UI designer is a role that is focused on enhancing the user's satisfaction with a product. This is achieved by improving the usability and enjoyability for the consumer, key to ensuring the organization keeps it's customers and attracts new users. This role is vital for the success of a company in the modern era, driven by demand from millennials for their experience to be seamless and intuitive. Individuals in this position must be very aware of users experience and demands and it is a role that has seen a large increase of women in the position. As the UX/UI Designer is critical to whether the product succeeds, the very senior roles command an average salary of $90,000 to $130,000 - and higher. 37% of those working in the field are women according to LadiesThatUX, with around 60% of those in research roles. Unfortunately, advancement is still slow, with only 10% of senior management roles held by women.
The future for women in tech
One of the most exciting developments within tech is the Virtual Reality market, which has the potential to bridge the gender divide. Diversity could be crucial to it's success because of the need for developers to understand how both men and women experience VR. However, in an interview with us, Cindy Mallory, VR Game Developer for DreamSail games, expressed her disappointment at the current imbalance in VR.
She stated that 'white papers demonstrate a disparity in access to virtual reality and highlight a gap in wages and hire for women working in VR development. As a woman accustomed to being a minority in my field, it’s devastating to compile audience segmentation reports that indicate the “smart” thing to do is design a game geared towards placating the male millennials dominating the pool. This being said, VR is a space that is ripe for equality. There are amazing communities of developers and evangelists formed around the movement to support Women in VR.' With more women and men supporting female IT careers and speaking out against gender bias, VR promises to have a bright and equal future.
The video game developer Zynga are one of the notable tech businesses in the Silicon Valley that has a heavy focus on bridging the gap for women in tech. They have introduced a dedicated employee resource for supporting women in tech - Women at Zynga (WAZ). Zynga state that 'the mission of WAZ is to foster an environment that empowers women to succeed and become leaders in their careers and communities.'
While the statistics don't suggest women will dominate the IT field any time soon, there are signs of a slow improvement across various positions and businesses. Most significantly, individuals and businesses in the modern era are beginning to speak out against the inequality. These changing attitudes pave the way for women to enter the industry, hopefully facilitating a move towards a more diverse, inclusive and exciting future for tech.